Corrosive Capital from China in the Americas

China will continue using sharp power to influence Latin America, said experts in a conversation moderated by AS/COA’s Eric Farnsworth.


  • Jessica Ludwig, Senior Program Officer, International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy
  • David Shedd, Former Acting Director, Defense Intelligence Agency and Visiting Fellow, Heritage Foundation
  • Parsifai D’Sola Alvarado, Founder and Executive Director of the Andrés Bello Foundation – China Latin America Research Center
  • Eric Farnsworth, Vice President, Americas Society/Council of the Americas (moderator)

During an event co-sponsored by Americas Society/Council of the Americas and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) entitled “Corrosive Capital from China in the Americas,” Jessica Ludwig of the National Endowment for Democracy began by defining the concept of sharp power to help illustrate how authoritarian regimes engage with other global actors through their corrosive capital. China, she explained, is the foremost user of sharp power. David Shedd of the Heritage Foundation detailed that China uses this sharp power to exploit laws and local markets, especially in countries with corrupt governments. Parsifai D’Sola Alvarado of the Andrés Bello Foundation – China Latin America Research Center added that employment generation by Chinese investment guarantees them a strong presence in the region. Still, he expressed that an alternative to Chinese investment in Latin America is needed to foster strong institutions and transparency.

Ludwig said that the reaction from the United States and other Western countries to China should be to continue to engage in terms of their values—namely democracy—and to encourage Latin America to demand more information whenever they do business with China. She added that Western countries should proactively push for a more sustainable and fair economic agenda in Latin America. Shedd believes that the United States and Western countries should concentrate on pushing back on Chinese technology and 5G networks, as whoever has more information and the ability to process it will come out on top.